Kenyan MPs to swim in cash

June 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Members of Parliament on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a proposal to double their allowances and allocate themselves a hefty salary increase before they agree to pay tax.

The new rates tabled by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) arising from the recommendations of the Akiwumi Tribunal  now awaits the debate and passage of the Finance Bill set to be brought to the House by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

MPs monthly basic salary increases to Sh1.2 million up from Sh871, 000 while the Speaker will earn Sh2.8 million up from Sh1.5 million according to a proposal tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka would be the biggest beneficiaries and could now earn hefty salaries amounting to Sh3.2 million and Sh2.7 million respectively.

The Parliamentary Service Commission report proposes that the Speaker be entitled to a sitting allowance of Sh30,000 up from Sh10,000 while MPs will take home Sh10,000 up from Sh5,000 for each sitting. The new perks had originally been proposed by a Tribunal that was headed by former Court of Appeal judge Akilano Akiwumi.

The PSC however reviewed the Akiwumi proposal upwards. The tribunal had recommended Sh2.9 million for the PM, Sh2.1 for the VP, 2.1 million for the Speaker and Sh1.1 million for MPs.The Legislators have however agreed taxation of the transport, entertainment and responsibility allowances. In total an MP will submit Sh776,000 out of this to be taxed

PSC Vice Chairman Walter Nyambati tabled the proposals in Parliament on Wednesday together with the Akiwumi report and defended the review of the report recommendations, saying the Commission increased the perks to ensure that the salaries of MPs are not reduced since the proposed Constitution declares null and void any law that exempts the allowances of MPs.

“If the new Constitution is approved the take-home remuneration of an MP shall be reduced by a minimum of Sh200, 000 as all allowances will be taxable,” said the PSC proposal.

“Human nature is that the employers want to pay less while those who work want to get more than work done. There should be a balance,” he said while defending the proposals.

“This report we are supporting seeks to restore honour to the profession of politics,” said Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.

Livestock Development Assistant Minister Adan Duale said: “In my view the amount of money you pay an MP cannot adequately compensate the heavy responsibility he shoulders.”

The Akiwumi Tribunal further proposed that the mortgage for the MPs be raised from the maximum Sh15 million to Sh20 million. Women legislators will also enjoy a maternity leave of Sh60,000 while their male counterparts will have Sh30,000 paternity leave allowance. They are entitled to only two such allowances per year.

The PM, Vice President and the Speaker will enjoy enhanced pension packages with a monthly pension equal to 80 percent of their current monthly salary, a Sh200,000 house allowance and fuel allowance of Sh50,000.

Further they would have 10 workers at their disposal paid by taxpayers including two drivers, a personal assistant, a secretary, two armed bodyguards, a gardener, a cleaner and a senior support staff.

Those MPs who do not make it back to Parliament after elections will enjoy a lifetime pension of Sh100, 000 monthly.

The perks of the PM and his two deputies will be backdated to early 2008 when the National Accord became operational while the MPs will start enjoying the new perks in July 1 this year.

The PSC is made up of MPs and chaired by the Speaker.

The Akiwumi Tribunal was instituted to review the perks of the MPs and National Assembly staff after a public outcry over the exemption of MPs from paying taxes. Despite public outcry the MPs refused to pay their taxes on their hefty allowances.

Former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya started the debate when he proposed that the legislators pay tax on their allowances. In the new perks the House allowance, Constituency allowance and the car maintenance allowances.. 

Currently the Parliamentarians only pay tax on their basic salary of Sh200,000.


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